My Cinco de Mayo snack spread is never complete without a bowl of creamy guacamole front and center to dip crunchy tortilla chips into. As someone who makes it from scratch ahead of time, I’ve often wondered how to keep guacamole from turning brown before serving it.
Recently, I found the solution to this dip dilemma just in time for the holiday that involves holding off on mixing in the tomatoes and onions until the very end (more on that later!).
Why does guacamole turn brown in the fridge?
Guacamole turns brown because avocados release an enzyme after being cut. This enzyme reacts with the oxygen in the air, starting a process called called oxidation.
“The flesh of the avocado oxidizes quickly — much like a cut apple — which changes the color [from green to brown],” says certified dietitian Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC.
Adding fresh lemon or lime juice to the guac mixture can halt any browning as you’re preparing it. But if you’re making a batch in advance, sometimes citrus juice on its own isn’t enough.
How to Keep Guacamole From Turning Brown
The additional step to avoid serving brown guacamole? LifeSavvy writer Shea Simmons suggests holding off on putting ingredients like onions, tomatoes, and jalapeño (also called pico de gallo) into the avocado mixture.
Instead, she says placing a layer of pico de gallo on top of the mashed avocados beforehand creates a barrier to keep oxygen away. Once the pico de gallo is on top of the avocado base, she mentions that you can cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
Afterwards, remove the plastic wrap and stir the pico de gallo into the avocado mixture for a nicely green guac to enjoy with tortilla chips. Yum!
A Delicious Recipe for Homemade Guacamole
Using chef Gabriel Kolofon’s recipe for perfect guacamole with pico de gallo as a guide, I tested this hack at home. My major tweak was topping guac with the pico de gallo before placing it in the fridge until serving to avoid browning.
Homemade guac takes some prep work, which is why I’ve included a handy list of kitchen tools to make it a breeze.
Tools like a molcajete (the traditional Mexican version of a mortar and pestle) help you smash ripe avocados to your desired consistency. A citrus squeezer allows you to juice fresh limes with ease, while a sharp chef’s knife is the key to evenly diced tomatoes and onions.
Here are the steps I followed to ensure vibrant green guacamole.
- 1 serrano chile or jalapeño, seeds removed (if you want a mild guac) and chopped
- Kosher salt
- 100 ml fresh squeezed lime juice, plus more as needed
- 5 ripe small avocados
- 3 1/3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 white onion, chopped
- 3 small tomatoes, diced
- 1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup cotija cheese, shredded or crumbled
- Tortilla chips, for serving
- IMUSA 6-inch Granite Molcajete (Buy from Amazon, $15.30)
- OXO Good Grips Citrus Squeezer (Buy from Amazon, $17.99)
- Henckels 8-inch Statement Chef’s Knife (Buy from Amazon, $23.95)
- In a small bowl, mix the serrano chile or jalapeño with a pinch of the salt and lime juice. Set aside for five minutes.
- Create the pico de gallo in a separate bowl by combining the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, 2 tablespoons of the lime-chile mixture, and a pinch of salt together. Set aside as well.
- Remove the pit from each avocado and scoop the flesh out of the skins before placing into the molcajete. Start smashing the avocados to break them down slightly — the molcajete might get a little crowded but that’s fine. Pour the rest of the lime-chile mixture over the avocados and and continue smashing them until the guac reaches your preferred consistency (chunky or smooth).
- Give the mixture a taste and add more salt if needed. Find it to be too salty? Try adding more lime juice to taste and pour in the olive oil. Pour the avocado base into a medium sized bowl.
- Spread the pico de gallo over the base in a single layer and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic wrap is directly touching the pico de gallo, which helps keep excess air out. Store the guac in the fridge until it’s time to serve. (Tip: Serve within the first hour or two of making it for freshness.)
- Remove the plastic wrap and fold the pico de gallo into the avocado base until it’s fully combined. Use a clean bowl or molcajete as the serving vessel. Garnish with fresh cilantro and shredded cotija cheese before enjoying with tortilla chips. Makes 5-10 servings.
The Tasty Moment of Truth
By the photo above, it’s clear that this clever hack actually worked! Letting the guac sit in the fridge for an hour allowed to chill without oxidizing.
Plus, the taste was worth the wait as the the guacamole had a good ratio of tomatoes, onions, jalapeño, and lime. This gave the dip a spicy, acidic, and pungent kick that didn’t overpower the mild tasting avocados. (Now I see why chef Kolofon calls it ‘perfect guacamole!’)
Patience and effort really does pay off for a tasty final dish like this mouthwatering guac recipe. It’ll definitely be a part of my Cinco de Mayo spread this year and any other time I’m craving this delicious dip!
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